Under the direction of Clair Lombardo, Chair of the Science Department, students helped to prepare Sacred Heart’s first school-built mini-boat research vessel – “Sacred Heart Star of the Seas” – for eventual launch as the first mini-boat in the Indian Ocean. The boat is equipped with a weighted keel, a sail, and a solar panel attached to a GPS.
Once completed the vessel was transported to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; from there it was air freighted to South Africa where it is being utilized by a team of scientists boarding the Thomas G. Thompson, a U.S. Navy Global Research Vessel.
A research team aboard the Thompson comprised of scientists from the U.S., Germany and China is conducting research on the ocean floor and along slow-spreading ridges. The team launched the vessel from the Marion Rise in the Indian Ocean on March 22, 2019. Sacred Heart’s mini-boat will be carried by the powerful Agulhas Current and eventually reach land in India, Australia, or perhaps beyond.
“Sacred Heart Star of the Seas” includes a “message in the bottle” as a means of sharing the story of its creation with whoever finds the boat once ashore.
The collaborative project has involved Sacred Heart students from elementary to high school. The opportunity to explore what Woods Hole scientists call “the blue planet” came to Sacred Heart in large part through Henry Dick, a senior scientist at Woods Hole and husband of Sacred Heart English teacher Winifred Dick.
"The ocean is one of the final frontiers on planet earth. Much of the floor has not been mapped, and our understanding of fundamental processes - such as the formation of the ocean floor - is not fully understood,” said Henry Dick, the chief scientist on the Woods Hole Indian Ocean cruise project. “Biologically, geologically and physically, the planet’s seas are an incredibly complex system of wind, waves, current, life and resources that are yet poorly known, but offer huge benefits to mankind. I am delighted that our expedition out to map previously unknown seafloor will also contribute to Sacred Heart School’s understanding of the winds and waves through which we sail.”